Mining death toll too high

ANNUAL company member safety data put out by the International Council on Mining and Metals reveals there was one fewer death in 2018 compared to 2017 and 13 fewer than 2016, although the number of hours worked was up 16%.
Mining death toll too high Mining death toll too high Mining death toll too high Mining death toll too high Mining death toll too high

ICMM CEO Tom Butler

In 2018 50 workers lost their lives at work according to the ICMM's  benchmarking report, which is based on safety data and statistics of more than 1 million workers and contractors from ICMM's 27 company members.

There were also three incidents recorded where more than one person died, up from two incidents in 2017.

The international mining organisation is focused on health and safety performance and with its 26 mining companies and 35 associations on board it wants to cut operational fatalities to zero.

Importantly, the safety data does not include the Brumadinho tragedy in Brazil at Vale's Córrego do Feijão iron ore mine which left at least 150 people dead and more than 180 still missing. That tragedy occurred in January.

The downward trend seen last year continued with total fatalities down 2% and the fatality frequency rate down 19%.

This year's data also has a 3% increase in the number of total recordable injuries from 7515 in 2017 to 7755 in 2018.

The injury rate was also down, from 3.94 in 2017 to 3.41 in 2018, despite the number of recordable injuries going up from 7515 to 7751.

The number one cause of death has been fall of ground in underground mines for the past few years. In 2018 though, most deaths were caused by mobile equipment, with 15 deaths (30%) caused by transportation/mobile equipment compared to 11 last year, and nine (18%) caused by fall of ground.

In 2017 fall of ground incidents claimed 17 workers' lives.

The most dangerous country for miners was South Africa, where 14 deaths were recorded in 400 million work hours.

Of the fatalities 44% were in Africa, 34% in the Americas, 14% in Asia, 4% in Europe and 4% were in Oceania.

The countries with the highest fatality frequency rates were Hungary, Spain and Laos, although only one death was recorded for each country.

Eleven member companies also recorded no fatalities in 2017, an increase from eight in 2017.

ICMM CEO Tom Butler said the annual safety data tragically recorded that 50 people lost their lives at work in 2018, which made the ICMM and its company members more determined to eliminate fatalities from mining operations.

"The single highest cause of deaths in 2018 was from mobile mining equipment which is why we are exploring collision avoidance technology in our cleaner, safer vehicles program," he said.

Launched in October 2018, the CSVI involves ICMM members collaborating with mining original equipment manufacturers to develop collision avoidance technologies to eliminate fatalities from vehicle interactions.

The ICMM is hoping the technology can be rolled out to members by 2025.

It is also working with the United Nations Environment and Program and the Principles for Responsible Investment on an independent review of the Brumadinho dam failure to develop an international standard for tailings facilities.